The Clyde Street NSLC “Pirate”

HALIFAX – Halifax is small enough that you learn the names and faces of the homeless and impoverished folks who have taken to panhandling or busking to get by. Probably the most well-known gentleman was affectionately called the “Clyde Street Pirate” because of his eye-patch. His name was Chris Doyle and he passed away this week after having a heart attack.

Chris seemed like a friendly, happy guy. He gave great high fives and liked to tell ladies “You’re breaking my heart”! I have a feeling he liked being in front of the Clyde Street NSLC because of the constant stream of students who often stopped to joke around with him.

Seeing Chris around town was a part of growing up in Halifax. I saw him not even a week ago. It is safe to say that he was something like a local celebrity. He will be  sorely missed by many, many people in Halifax.

Donations in memory of Chris can be made to one of the below organizations that work to help the homeless in different ways, (in-kind donations of volunteering are also accepted):

Halifax Housing Help
Raising the Roof
Hope Cottage
ARK Outreach
Pheonix House
Food Not Bombs
Feed Nova Scotia
Brunswick Street Mission
Saint Leonard’s Society
Metro Turning Point
Barry House

Let me know about other groups that help the homeless and I’ll add them to this list.

I hope that this serves as a reminder to treat people with dignity and generosity. Chris’ story is at an end, but there are many other folks living in Halifax in similar circumstances who also deserve support and love.

*Photo by gLangille

Update:

Interview with Chris by Hillary MacDonald
Chronicle Herald article
The Coast article

For years Chris regularly visited the Society of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Nova Scotians office. Donations can be made out to them or through United Way.

68 comments

  1. I worked in Halifax 25 yrs ago and Chris was there then.Never knew his name. Never asked either! Sad!

  2. Goodbye, Chris. Thanks for all the high fives over the years! It won’t be the same at the Clyde St. LC.

  3. ARR.I.P Cap’n. You were a part of my university experience I’ll never forget.

  4. I hope the Clyde st Pirate, rests in peace…. i miss him as he was a kind man, from what i knew about him….

    Phoenix House… the idea of it was started as a good intention but the kids that live there are juvenile, they cause havoc in the street of halifax, break into cars at night, and hang out in front of Parklane mall pan-handleing for money… not saying all but most.

    RIP Chris Doyle.

    Love lizzy

  5. I passed ‘the pirate’ on my way home every day. He always made me laugh and smile every time I saw him, and we often talked about hockey and the happenings in Halifax. Too many people dismissed him as an outcast. I for one will miss his smile and humor dearly. He was a kind soul, and I am shedding a tear writing this. Hopefully, he will rest in peace with a smile, and not have to endure any freezing weather asking for change from people who didn’t care enough to even say hello. RIP my friend.

    Love Derrick

  6. It is very sweet and yes donations are sweet and expected in this situation but this man was a legend in Halifax and on Cylde St, so why not take donations to go towards having a statue of Chris Doyle near the NSLC. He is a local legend and will never be forgotten, and Cylde St NSLC will never be the same!

  7. Sad to hear of his passing, but we stopped giving him money the day in the summer of ’93 when we saw him playing a GameBoy in front of the NSLC while asking for change.

  8. I am sorry that Chris died, but I have to take exception to the claim that he was always so nice to NSLC customers. The truth is that he hassled women, even harassed them at times, and I avoided that liquor store because of him. His approach was subtle — eyes sliding lasciviously down to your ass as he said something innocuous — but NOT benign. I’m sure my comments will be heard as inappropriate, given that he is dead and was homeless. But a fact is a fact, and harassment is harassment, no matter how disenfranchised the person doing it.

  9. @ Jennifer…..I really like your idea of a statue and I would make a donation towards that! Clyde street will not be the same.

  10. RP “Jack”.. Jack was his STage Name. That’s right.. Stage Name.. DOnations to the homless shelters and such is alays a good idea, however don’t be fooled by Chris’ appearance on Clyde Street. He was not homeless, or less fortunate.. He owned an apartment Building here in HRM, kept in touch with all his friends and family vie his Blackberry, and got his play money from the unsuspectung students that frequented the NSLC on CLyde Street. on’t get em wrong, I’m sad to see him go.. He was a very pleasant person and a kind hearted soul. Just don’t be fooled by the act. RIP “Jack” aka Chris Doyle.

  11. Chris rode my bus all the time and was always a perfect gentleman – he will be greatly missed in this city!

  12. It is heartwarming that Haligonians high five their homeless. As a previous halifax resident now in Toronto, I can say that no Torontonian will come within a 5 foot radius let alone make human to human contact with a street person. 

    Keep doing your awesome thing Halifax.

    RIP Chris.

  13. @Lizzy Maire, did you even read your commment. “…the kids that live there are juvenile…” by their very nature as kids, they would in fact be juvenile. What’s your solution, stop funding the Phoenix house because they are the only people willing to deal with them?

    RIP Chris, I’m sorry I never stopped to ask your name.

  14. this actually made me sad. 

    I lived in Halifax in 2005 and remember offering him a muffin once. He took it but only by sticking his hand behind his back. He wanted me to know he’d prefer money. 

  15. I always thought he was either deaf or slightly mute. Was this not true? Maybe he just refused to give up te pirate growl.

    Weird dude.

  16. I too always found humor in his remarks entering the store. Although I also heard from a friend who worked at sobeys that he would come in with no eye patch and dressed fine getting groceries. So then I stopped giving him change but always gave a smile… I also found it odd he had the money to make those little poem cards and laminate them. Either way it just makes him more of a legend and hilarious that he would do that and get away with it for many years. What a guy! <3

  17. After not willing to part with what little change I had for myself, this bastard got in my face and frightened me.

  18. The Pirate had and will continue to have a greater reputation in Halifax than Mayor Kelly. He was a true institution of the city and gave new meaning to the words “street performer”. I love the idea of a statue, but at the very least the city should dedicated the sidewalk block where he sat for decades to his memory. Anyone who gets upset that he wasn’t really homeless is missing the point. He was there to put on an act and as dedicated to his craft, he put his daughter through school being the Pirate. I’d rather throw change to somebody at least providing entertainment then the worthless beggars who just shake a cup. And FYI half the beggars on Spring Garden have homes too, they are all scam artists, the real homeless are collecting bottles to survive not hanging out all day on the sidewalk.

    RIP it up in Davy Jones’ Locker

  19. Please add these to the list.
    Metro Turning Point (Atlantic Canada’s Largest Shelter for Men) 420-3282, 2170 Barrington Street
    Barry House
    (Shelter for women and children experiencing homelessness) 422-8324, 2706 Gottingen Street.

  20. juvenile phoenix house i see will I guess i am one but I have no criminal record I have two degrees and I work for department of justice
    I was a part of Phoenix and Phoenix save my life and help me get back on track in life
    I also met some amazing people through pheonix who become very important ppl in my life and they too have made great life for themselves which is not a criminal one
    so please don’t be judging when you have no clue what you talking about everyone as a story and a journey no one is perfect or the same
    I think we need to stand by our youth help them find their way not having living life they way you think is best for them just be there to listen

  21. I don’t think it’s hilarious to think that this guy was scamming the public — presenting himself as needy if he actually wasn’t. And I really the only person who felt creeped out by him? To have felt there was an inappropriate sexual overtone to how he interacted with females?

  22. Wow. I am here at home in Bermuda and the amount of people that are talking about the pirate is unbeleavable. Anybody who studied in Halifax knows this guy. RIP Pirate!

  23. @PROUD PHOENIX YOUTH

     I am very interested to know where you earned your two degrees because your command of th English language is laughable. The Pirate himself could form better sentence structure, may he rest in peace.

  24. Guy was jokes man, always upbeat even in the harsh weather.
    There were rumors of how he had a house or whatever – either way, he never did me wrong and always was thankful even for the small stuff.
    Rest Easy

  25. The Clyde Street Pirate, homeless or not, was dedicated to what he did. He was there in the coldest of days and the stormiest of nights. He was always kind to me and always put a smile on my face, and I did not find him to be ‘creepy’ at all. His presence will be missed by many Haligonians but will be remembered in my mind always.

    RIP Matey.

  26. I can testify to the fact that he was not homeless also.  I’ve seen him on his balcony at his apartment building.  I also believe he saved my friend from a scary situation one night by Clyde St LC.  He certainly was legendary and will be missed by many.  Unfortunate that he made some people uncomfortable as he was harmless…and perhaps smarter than the rest of us sometimes.

  27. The sentiment here is odd because he was generally considered a nuisance in the neighborhood and someone people went out of their way to avoid. I know he was a problem for the NSLC staff when he misbehaved and bothered people and I avoided going to that store whenever possible because of his presence. It now sounds as though he was actually running a profitable scam on the public. Perhaps word will get out soon about millions of dollars squirreled away in a mattress or whatever. Goodbye Mr. Pirate, but don’t hurry back.

  28. Lived on Morris and Dresden less than a block from that nslc until this past december.  That guy was a champ.  

  29. @ Bob

    it’s an internet blog posting, not a thesis paper…. ya jackass.

  30. Served him at McDonalds almost everyday, since January…I’ll miss him 🙁

  31. @Jeanne

    maybe if you didn’t take yourself so seriously you might’ve appreciated his kind heart.

  32. I grew up knowing this man. People shouldn’t throw rocks at people without knowing the facts.
    He, in fact, was homeless for many, many, many years. Someone took him in and let him stay at their place because he had no where to go. He had no money to pay them.
    Pat – Dig your head out of your ass. He most certainly did NOT own an apartment building. He was NOT in touch with his family. Get your facts straight. He never kept in touch with his family. This I know for a fact.
    Jeanne – If you felt it was harassment then you should have done something about it. Because you didn’t then you have no business airing your opinion here and tarnishing his name.
    Sue – He was never without his patch – he had a glass eye. If his patch was off you would most certainly recognize the difference in both eyes, so no, I doubt the patch was off.
    Paula – How do you know it was his balcony at HIS apartment? You saw the lease that had his name on it? Maybe he was visiting a friend?
    Jamie – Perhaps someone gave him a Gameboy? Or he used all his nickles and dimes to get one considering he didn’t have any other worldly posessions?
    Yes, he was homeless, in a sense. He was deaf. He panhandled. He stood out in all kinds of weather, something that I doubt many of you would do.
    I have the memories of you from years ago to cherish because it saddened me so much to see you like this.
    Rest In Peace Chris. xo

  33. I had the chance to interview Chris Doyle last March. If you want to know more information about Doyle I encourage you to read my article about him – http://isleinspiration.tumblr.com/post/4394726770/pirateman

  34. Chris was the most dedicated “worker” I’ve ever seen. He always showed up on time (4p.m. on the dot) and never missed a shift. I saw that guy stand outside of the NSLC in the shittiest weather; he’d be standing there with his umbrella, his makeshift raincoat, his thick winter coat or his cowboy hat when it was too sunny. If the liquor store was open, he was there doing his thing. 

    I dont think he was homeless. He made too much money to be homeless. In fact, the only listing for a Chris Doyle in Halifax is found by Point Pleasant Park. Joke’s on us? I dont think so. He worked harder for his money than many I’ve seen at the office. Plus, just because he panhandled doesnt mean people have the right to judge him or tell him how to spend his money. He was a modern panhandler; Blackberry and all!

    He was funny and knew how to take a joke. I’ll miss looking out the window and seeing him dance around and hearing him call people “mothafuckerrrrrrrs”. R.I.P. dear Pirate. 

  35. @ BOB

    you know what I have a learning disability and I work hard get where I am so you want go make fun and be rude go for it

  36. I was always greeted with a hi 5 and as I left with my 8 pack chris would sign off “hab a doo day”. I will never forget it. RIP Mate

  37. I don’t wish ill or death on anyone and I hope he rests in peace but One Eyed Jack was not what he seemed. Yes, he was relentless at his “job” and showed up even in the worst conditions but he was not homeless and in fact probably made more annual, tax free, income than you or me. I’d be willing to bet that zero percentage of his profits went to any of the charities listed above. He’s violated people by spitting on or at them and has been to court twice, that I know of, for sexual harassment. So, yes, he is an icon to the Clyde st nslc but maybe not saint people make him out to be.

  38. RIP buddy … As I read the comments on this story .. I am saddened by a common theme .. our basic belief that the poor are poor by choice .. such a lucrative career it is to stand on the street corner all day asking for change … I guess its easier for us to believe that we are being scammed .. then to feel guilty about not throwing someone a couple of loonies …. to feel threatened by an aggressive panhandler, I question how aggressive any of us would be if our next meal depended upon the collection of spare change…. getting angry with someone because they don’t sleep under a bush at night but instead actually sleep inside?… there are far too many people in this country that are working poor and struggle to provide the basics for their family and themselves…. Does anyone actually have first hand knowledge of this guy his family and his vast real-estate holdings? — if not then perhaps next time you see a guy or gal with can in their hand asking for change — pass them a few cents if you can afford it .. its good therapy doing something for someone just because u ‘can’…… and then there is no reason for us to feel guilty and rely on those old stereotypes. Stepping down off my soapbox for the night … next ? 🙂

  39. Yarrrr pretty lady.. Ooorg errr ernmmmmmmm that’s all I remember. Be nice to walk in there in piece! But yeh definitely should make a pirate statue for the memories

  40. Chris was my uncle and he was a harmless man. He was caring and I remember always being excited to see Chris when I was a child. So many of these posts are so ludacrious it’s sad. The Article below about Chris is all true.

    http://isleinspiration.tumblr.com/post/4394726770/pirateman

    He did not own apartment buildings, and was homeless for a time. His family did try to help but he cut off all contact with us for years. Someone did take him in and help him. He says in the arcticle above he did well pan handling for a few years, but I have no idea what “well” means for someone panhandling. Chris was deaf, blind in one eye and had no education, life wasn’t exactly a cushy ride for him. He obviously made an impact with some people and it’s nice to hear he is remembered fondly by so many. For those of you so high on your horse, let’s all examine your life and see what turns up. Does working a 9-5 job make you a better person than someone who panhandles? A good person is a good person regardless of what they do for a living. A little apathy for those less fortunate goes a long way.

    I’ll miss Chris.

  41. I think we should let those who remember him fondly, remember him fondly, and those that do not… well, remember him un-fondly then. 

    I think it is a shame if the comments are true that he harassed people, and was not, in fact, homeless. HOWEVER. I think we will never come to agree on this point so I believe we can focus on other aspects of this story.

    If he wasn’t homeless, so what. His death is now raising awareness about the problem of the homeless and underprivileged in Halifax! Let’s use his story to promote awareness, to make donations to those charities! I think we should stop bickering about his circumstances, and use the idea of him as a catalyst for change here.

  42. I’ve worked at a gas station nearby and for about 7 months he would come in every night a few minutes before close to bug me for lottery tickets. Over that time I got to know the guy pretty well, he had a house just up the road with his ‘old woman’ and some cats that he looked after. 

    He bugged the hell out of us and always tried getting a rise out of me and my buddy who also worked there, but we didn’t let him get to us and we’d end up having great conversations with him. Got to know him really damn well.

    We dropped some flowers and a $3 lotto ticket off in front of the liquor store today for him.

  43. @ “Me” – Chris’s Nephew 

    Thank you for honoring my article. I have been trying to clarify the false rumors about Doyle for almost a year now. 

    If you happen to know when the funeral service is for Mr. Doyle, I have a few people emailing me asking me if I happen to know and if you don’t mind, I would like to share it with them.

    I, myself, wish I could go, however I am currently living in Toronto.

    Feel free to contact me at hillary.macdonald@ryerson.ca

  44. I never understood a word you said but thats ok. Rest in piece matey.

  45. Once again, if you all would like to learn the real facts of Chris Doyle. Feel free to check out my article – http://isleinspiration.tumblr.com/post/4394726770/pirateman

  46. Who cares if he was homeless or not? Could he be pushy at times? Maybe. I’d be willing to bet the majority of you have never been in that position. Who knows how any of you would react to being in a situation like his.

    I for one am sad I didn’t get to know him better and give a little more. Homeless or not his situation was worse than my cash strapped student life and 99% of yours. He was a good man and always had me leaving Clyde St. with a smile. Here is a snippet from his obituary that highlights his dedication to raising the awareness of the deaf community.

    For those of you with fond memories you can leave a tribute in the guestbook via the link at the bottom…

    “He was educated at the School for the Deaf in Halifax and the Interprovincial School for the Deaf in Amherst. He was a well known active member of the N.S. deaf community and a past president of the Truro Deaf Association. He also taught American Sign Language (ASL) in Truro.”
    http://www.meaningfulfunerals.net/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=1127667&fh_id=12755&s_id=CEF2C176-C74E-9AFC-37BF42FC00A42779

  47. To the folks who are accusing the man of scamming everyone: don’t be so goddamn self-righteous. He sat in front of a liquor store for twenty years.

    The fact that people need to attack a homeless man after his passing really shows their character. Internet anonymity or not, you’re cowards who are jealous of the love being shown for Doyle. Please, go hug your Mother if you’re so emotionally insufficient.

    RIP.

  48. @HILLARY MACDONALD – Hey great article. Thanks for that and for posting the link. It’s the best piece so far. Personally I just ignored him. Didn’t wish him any ill will or anything, he was just not part of my shopping trip.

  49. RIP Buddy! You’ll be missed. See ya on the flip side! HIGH FIIIIVE!

  50. Well, I can say after working spring garden rd McDonald’s for a few years, “The Pirate” or “Dude” as I came to know him was always nice to me. Just like with any one out there, some people will like them others won’t. I never had any issues with him, was amused by him daily as he would come in and “talk” to us on over night shifts about what ever was on his mind. He on occasion even help me throw drunk students out of my store.
    I will miss our late night and early morning talks, I will miss his silly humor, I will miss him.
    Did he have a blackberry or gameboy? Don’t know and don’t care. What differance does it make? Might he have been pushy some times about change sure but I’m gonna guess if the tables where turned how would any of the rest of us far in his shoes?
    Some say he was a scam artist, some would say he own this that and the other thing, again I say who cares? If your a ‘Blue color’ person making 50k a year and have something that some one thinks is out of your means to achieve, who are they to say you didn’t save your pennies and get it? Who are we to say Chris didn’t do what any one of the rest of us might do and save some of what ever he did or did not have to do something?

    I for one shall remember the good times I spent with him fondly but not forget anything negative. No one is perfect!

    Juice of Halifax

  51. It’s just amazing to me how people turn into saints the moment they die. Guess everyone’s afraid of what will said behind THEIR cold, dead backs one day if they dare to speak the truth about others who’ve shuffled off this mortal coil. I mentioned my sense of being harassed because it is important for such behavior to be acknowledged and NOT sugarcoated. If other women felt that way — well, if ANYone felt that way — then there’s solidarity in knowing they weren’t alone. And that’s a step in the right direction.
    The above notwithstanding, I’d like to convey my sincere condolences to Chris’s nephew and other members of Chris’s family. I know that losing someone is difficult and sad, and I’m sure these are difficult days for you.

  52. We lost a wonderful man over the weekend. Chris inspired my daughter to learn to sign. She would always share her snacks with him.He would save toys from McDonald’s for her. We had a very friendly relationship over the last six years.Kathleen cried when she saw the news last night and said we hadn’t spent enough time with him over this long winter.Sleep well my friend.

  53. I looked forward to my trips to that NSLC, although they grew infrequent due to moving away from the neighbourhood, and he was always polite and respectful to me…and to others, from what I witnessed. If indeed he was ever rude or disrespectful, people should have complained while he was alive, rather than throwing around unsubstantiated allegations about a dead man!

    The ‘urban legend’ about panhandlers being wealthy tycoons is as old as the day is long. Wake up folks and think critically before you state an untruth as fact…

    My last sighting of Chris was up on Dutch Village Road. He crossed the street near to my bus and slipped off down a hill and disappeared. That final sighting will be how I will remember him.

    Peace.

  54. Chris Doyle, the pirate, would be astonished to know that his presence at NSLC (Clyde Street) has had an impact on many Haligonians of all walks. I have known him for years. He’s intelligent and enjoyed discussing global news, local issues, and other hot subjects.

    He regularly visited the SDHHNS office (Society of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Nova Scotians) (1657 Barrington St Halifax, NS) for years. I encourage you all to make a donation to SDHHNS in his memory. The office provides sign language interpreting services, technical devices, and community work. The funeral service is at Atlantic Funeral Home on Bayers Road – Friday, April 8th at 2 pm.

  55. I’ve seen Chris almost weekly for the past 6 years, it’s a shame he wont be around anymore. I wont forget the numerous fist pumps and our conversation about ice cream cakes. RIP Sir Doyle Clyde Street will never be the same.

  56. Chris was definitely a lovable icon in front of the NSLC on Clyde street. He will be missed.

    I would also suggest that his room mate will be totally screwed now. They lived together and split the rent, and if he’s is in the same position as Chris, I doubt that he will be able to pay rent in May.

  57. Yes he was deaf, I stopped to talk with him many times as I know how to sign, and I knew him as a Sign Language teacher when he lived in Truro.

  58. I feel sorry for the dude and the communities loss, but really make donations in his name?

    Why not donate to the guy when he was still alive

  59. I worked at the Tims on Spring Garden back in 2002, and always joked around with him when he came in. He always had a big hug and a smile for us, and on many occasions would wait with me at the bus stop if it was late at night, just to make sure I got on safely. He was an eccentric for sure, but he was a very sweet man, who will be dearly missed <3

  60. Enough with the martyr-complex comments, people. So the dude didn’t want your muffin. So he played a gameboy. So he wanted some money—yes, probably to buy a drink.

    Don’t we all just long for a bit of wine and some gameboy on a rough day? Why do we have to berate the poor for being human?

    RIP Pirate.

  61. Hey Christopher,was wondering why I didn’t see you around,and found out just bout a week ago of your death,was very sad to hear you passed on,I’ll miss you and hope to see you on the other side!
    God bless
    Kirk

  62. I SEND MY BEST REGARDS TO THE PIRATE. WE USED TO LIVE IN HALIFAX AND NOW LIVE IN EDMONTON NOW AND WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT THE CLYDE STREET LIQOUR STORE PIRATE. WE WILL MISS HIM LOTS. HE MADE HALIFAX A PRETTY FUN PLACE. 

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